# 314: Breathing
Story behind the Passage
A few weeks ago, I noticed that my breathing was slightly off. This does not happen to me that often anymore, but it did. So, it was like an alarm bell going off. I have to watch my breathing more, I said to myself. You might wonder how the hell one can get off breathing and even watch it! People who do yoga or other techniques will know what I am talking about. All others can learn it. The essence is that all yoga and other meditation techniques are about breathing in some way or the other. None of these things work if you do not breathe “correctly,” meaning your breathing is in line with your body flow and it is deep — as deep as it can be.
Breathing, as the yogis also know, has its own little sub-field in yoga practice. It is called Pranayama. There are hundreds of breathing exercises and I probably only know five of them or so. The reason is that I never really got into it. It is the same with so many things. As soon as I get to the point where I have fully realized what all this is about, I do not care so much about the names and the details anymore. I am not saying this is not important. I just want to encourage people to practice it without knowing all the theory about it. The rest will follow organically as your curiosity grows. Do not forget, neither yoga nor pranayama nor any of the other practices are self-serving things. They are tools.
If you read this book by Iyengar, you will become fascinated with all the postures, I bet. Even if you have nothing to do with yoga and never want to try it, it is extremely interesting to see the degree of detail in every asana and every breathing posture. Iyengar was one of the world’s first international yoga celebrities. I once watched a documentary about him and remember that he found his way to yoga as a young boy who was actually very sick. He still managed to find a teacher and learn yoga. In the end, he got to teach and partly “heal” thousands of other people in the course of his long life, among them “famous” artists and public figures from Europe who contributed to his public visibility.
“If they are not used properly, they destroy bot the tool and the person using it.” What is important about yoga and the breathing training that goes along with it, at least for me, is the atmosphere and the circumstances. I am really picky and sensitive about this. For example, for me, the morning is the prime time of the day. Early morning is for most of the spiritual practices and morning in general about creative flow and productivity. What I mean by circumstances is that less is more, in every possible way. I do not need anything except for some private space and enought room to stretch. If there are some outside circumstances which make me shift my priorities, I endure it and accept it and do not think about it further. Still, in the long run, I do need my regular practice without major changes.
Humans are creatures of habit.
Only habits bring change.
If you learn to change your habits.
The reason why I picked this sentence from the opening pages of the Pranayama chapter in the book is because it beautifully describes a most basic truth in life: Everything is what you make it to be. Consequently, there is not “this yoga” or “that breathing exercise.” There is only your practice and your learning. Yes, it is recommended that you listen to a good teacher. But the point is, not every teacher is a good one. I am very radical about this. For me, the only real teachers for everything are the originals or very close disciples. It is a bit like Socrates and Plato. You can really be knowledgeable about everything they said but if you do not produce your own stuff which is worth being taught, I do not buy it.
Yes, I am quite radical about teaching.
Teaching makes sense if you have something to teach.
Everything else is more or less “content creation.”
Reproducing without creating.
So, to come back to breathing, you obviously have to do it yourself. Nobody else will do it for you. And you will immediately notice the difference it makes as soon as you start paying attention to your beathing and mix it with movement. I often notice that, when I do the normal yoga cycle in the morning and I do not pay attention to breathing, it gives me a maximum 20% of the effect. That is better than nothing. Still, you should never stop trying to work on your breathing. And the minute you forget about this, two things are possible: You have reached a state of unconscious deep and aware breathing at the same time or you are not aware anymore.
Still, as I said above, breathing is a tool.
The goal is to get to a place which you might not know yet.
If you keep breathing deeply, you might get so see it.
1) Do you pay attention to your breathing? When especially?
2) What are three things you know about yoga?
3) Which other tools can you think of that can be used in a very constructive or a very destructive way?